Known for his powerful music and introvert nature, Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman says that as an artiste, he prefers to create an alternate reality as opposed to expressing an opinion on the troubled socio-political scenario worldwide. Rahman mostly refrains from commenting on any current affairs like many celebrities.
Asked if the socio-political situations affect him, Rahman said here: “I think this is a golden time for the artiste to express, to unify people… The artiste inside you should wake up now, this is our time. There should be a revolution now. I feel more inspired now in terms of the adversity that is happening, because an artiste is the one who does not reflect the reality… He creates an alternate reality. “So when people are going for a war, the artiste makes an alternate reality of peace. So, my work of art should be more beautiful when the world around me is ugly with brutality.”
Citing the reference of some of the historical music pieces, the “Dil Se..” and “Slumdog Millionaire” fame composer said: “I think the best piece of art comes to an artiste when the society is chaotic, troubled and noisy. It is a blessing and a curse, and that is when the greatest symphony has been written. “When Germany went to war against Britain, the greatest Beethoven stuff has happened. There is a history behind the music.”
Rahman spoke as he promoted the Amazon Prime Video show “Harmony With A.R. Rahman”, which features musicians from four parts of India – Maharashtra, Kerala, Sikkim and Manipur. He is hosting the show, which will go live on August 15. He says the four places were chosen as “these are some of the ignored areas of our country and people do not care much about their music, people and culture”.
“They are connected somewhere to make our country, culturally a diverse one,” said Rahman. He believes that human stories always connect people along with the music. When he went to these places and got to know the stories behind people’s musical journey, he was fascinated.
“These musicians are keeping some old traditions alive, meeting the expectation of their fathers by playing the music. When we play music professionally, there are certain things that we do — there is a competitive spirit, things like who is playing something faster than the other.
“On the other hand, I met musicians from these regions who are told not to take it professionally because music is something very spiritual. They are doing it for the love of it. These qualities are lost in the mainstream. And that impressed me.” Was the intention behind the show to establish the co-existence of different music that goes beyond Bollywood?
“Not only music, but the continuous flow of human life… The idea is to project the diversity that makes India the country it is.” While his involvement in mainstream Bollywood is shifting to only selective projects, Rahman is utilising his creative energy to expand his horizon beyond being a musician.
“I am learning about storytelling, script writing and film production because of my production house. I do not want to be naive about things as a producer. If I am asking a film director to change something in his piece of work, I should pinpoint the right thing that is possible to change. So that in the difference of thought, we can find a creative solution.”
Two films — “99 Songs” and “Le Musk” (India’s first virtual reality film) — are there on the pipeline from his production house. Apart from making a mark for Indian music on the global map, Rahman also contributes to philanthropic work, which he considers an extension of the “evolution of humanity.”